A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

8 tips for unexpectedly working from home

A woman works on a laptop computer from home.

Working remote can lead to a variety of new challenges and obstacles. Here are eight simple tips to help make your at-home workdays more productive and less stressful.

As the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic develops, many people are working from home for the first time or more than ever before. Working remote can lead to a variety of new challenges and obstacles.

We sat down with Stefane Laessig, an organizational development partner at Marshfield Clinic Health System, and she offered eight simple tips to help make your at-home workdays more productive and less stressful.

1. Start your day as if you were coming into the office. It will help you get into the right headspace for work.

  • Change out of your PJs, shower, get dressed and eat breakfast. While it’s tempting to work in your pajamas, you might get caught off-guard with an emergency video call.
  • Have a faux commute. Go outside for a few minutes before you start your day to simulate a commute. Light and fresh air will help awaken your senses.

2. Resist the urge to turn on the TV or radio.

  • The constant news updates will distract you from your work.
  • If it feels too quiet, try turning on soft instrumental music. You can stream from music sites to look for playlists.

3. Pick a dedicated workspace. Having a consistent space for work will trick your brain into getting into work mode.

  • Stock your temporary workspace with paper, pens, ear buds, a water bottle and such, so you don’t have to constantly get up and look for supplies.
  • Have headphones or ear buds handy for conference calls, meetings or videos. They help cancel out noise and distractions.
  • Keep your space clean and organized.
  • Although it’s tempting, don’t eat at your workspace.

4. Communicate.

  • Update your location status and hours in your email signature, online calendar, meeting app and voicemail.
  • Make sure your team knows how to reach you and stay in contact frequently.
  • Communicate with those in your household when you will have conference calls or meetings and cannot be disturbed (visible but not available).
  • Make a sign for your door (or to put up at your desk) when you are on a call.

5. Stick to a schedule.

  • Build a schedule just as you would do if you were onsite.
  • Block out what you need to do in chunks, task-by-task.
  • Make daily to-do lists. Check off what you accomplished. Seeing tangible results will help keep you focused and motivated.
  • Don’t mix household chores with your work tasks. As tempting as it is to want to empty the dishwasher or do laundry, it starts to blur the lines between work and home.

6. Remember HIPAA/privacy guidelines.

  • Be extra diligent about protecting the privacy of patient information and internal communications.
  • Keep confidential materials and patient information out of sight from others in the household.

7. Take care of yourself.

  • Don’t forget to take breaks and lunch.
  • Take your breaks and lunch away from your workspace. You need that time to decompress.
  • Get outside  Fresh air does wonders for your concentration and mood.
  • Drink plenty of water.

8. End your day with a ritual that will teach your mind to stop work and disconnect.

  • Check your schedule and tasks for the next day.
  • Clean and organize your workspace for tomorrow.
  • Shut your laptop and take a deep breath.
  • Use apps such as Headspace or Calm to provide you with a guided meditation. It’s amazing what a few minutes can do to lift your spirits and help you focus on your family after your work is done.
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  1. Avatar Mar 19, 2020

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